The Maryland Department of Human Resources (DHR) says it has corrected seven out of 11 problems identified by auditors during an assessment of the state's handling of child support. It stressed that it plans to resolve the remaining issues by the beginning of May 2013 and enhance its ability to collect payments from noncustodial parents. However, the Office of Legislative Audits, which initially reported on the state's failure to adequately enforce child support orders, must approve the corrections before the DHR's Child Support Enforcement Administration can collect $100,000 of its 2013 budget appropriation.
The Office of Legislative Audits says the Maryland Department of Human Resources is showing improvement in the way it handles child support collections, but has only made "minimal progress" regarding problems with the company contracted to conduct collections within Baltimore. The report came as a follow-up to a 2011 review that harshly criticized the state DHR for failing to do enough to collect delinquent child support payments.
It is common practice for states to levy harsh penalties against noncustodial parents who fail to pay child support, often garnishing their wages, revoking their professional licenses and even sentencing them to jail. However, such tactics often fail to actually help the custodial parents in need of support. For this reason, Maryland has begun implementing changes to the way it collects child support, changes that have shown promising results so far.
An initiative introduced by the Child Support Program of one Maryland county's Department of Social Services aims to help non-custodial parents make more timely child support payments and become more involved in their children's lives. The Young Father's Program in Talbot County, which is just across the Chesapeake from Annapolis, helps participants find gainful employment and avoid the pitfalls that come with failing to pay child support.